Planning issues cost Conservatives votes

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The Conservatives in Clitheroe lost the Littlemoor by-election on planning issues.

The result is a major disappointment and was in spite of hard work by Jean Foreshaw, the Conservative candidate, who related to the electorate and was dignified in defeat.

We have listened to the residents of Littlemoor and the lessons are clear, they are deeply concerned about the main local issue, the creation of a housing site, the Standen Estate containing 1,034 homes, adjacent to the ward.

The proposal was contained in the first draft of the Ribble Valley Core Strategy, which is now being updated .

To date a planning application has not come to the Planning Committee and so has not been considered by councillors. We are aware Lancashire County Council has major highway objections to the application, which could result in a refusal.

Any planning application will have to be considered on its own merits and within planning law and guidelines.

We shall continue our campaign against excessive development of the Ribble Valley by lobbying coalition ministers, including Liberal Democrat ones, for changes in the rules to avoid excessive development in rural areas. We congratulate Coun. Shervey on his victory and hope he and his fellow Liberal councillors will join the Conservatives in arguing for change in planning regulations rather than seeking to make political capital and sit on the fence when difficult arguments have to be put to MPs and ministers.

The Liberal proposal contained in a leaflet sent to all households – that Coun. Shervey’s solution to our planning problems is that all applications should be limited to less than 75 homes - is impractical and misleading, as it cannot be done without changes introduced by Parliament. We hope electors were not induced to vote on the basis of this statement, believing the Ribble Valley Borough Council could introduce this restriction.

Jean Foreshaw and the Conservatives will not give up on the issues and interests of the people of Littlemoor and continue to work and fight for their interests. The Ribble Valley Conservatives campaign to persuade government to act on excessive development in rural areas and get unelected inspectors to listen more carefully to the views of elected councillors on planning committees, not constantly overturn their decisions on appeal, will continue.